Driverless cars could be on California’s roads and highways in less than a year. According to a news report in the Los Angeles Times, this does not mean that you’ll be able to buy a completely driverless car next year or even hail a ride in one. The technology is still under development and the driverless cars we’ll see on our roadways will likely be test vehicles. They will be allowed to pick up passengers, but only if they don’t have to pay.
Too Tough on Driverless Cars?
This timeline was revealed this week when the California Department of Motor Vehicles proposed a new set of regulations, which are expected to be approved by the DMV in early 2018. The state’s current regulations about testing driverless cars require a human driver behind the wheel even when a fully autonomous car is being tested. Some industry leaders and politicians have criticized these regulations as “too strict.”
States with less stringent laws are attracting tech companies that want to test driverless cars putting California at a disadvantage, some argue. Self-driving cars are already operating in other states such as Arizona and Florida, which have looser regulations compared with California.
Safety Should Come First
Despite the enthusiasm from tech companies and automakers to get these vehicles on the road, consumer groups have expressed deep concerns about the safety of these vehicles. As auto defect lawyers who represent injured victims and their families, we are concerned as well. DMV officials have said they are trying to balance safety with technology development.
Safety advocates at Consumer Watchdog told the Times that California is giving away too much authority to the Trump administration by wrongly relying on the federal government when there are absolutely no federal standards that specifically apply to self-driving cars. What they are essentially doing is using California’s roads and highways as public testing labs and Californians as guinea pigs for this new technology.
Driverless cars or fully autonomous technology shouldn’t be on our roads until it has been thoroughly vetted and has been established as safe. When we allow these vehicles to run our roadways and highways without a human driver who can take over if something goes wrong, we are endangering public safety. This is not acceptable. While this technology is inevitable, it is still important to pay attention to safety.